The 2020 Labour Government must rate as be New Zealand’s worst ever government; not only for its litany of failures, but for its arrogance and disrespect towards democracy. Fortunately, democracy prevailed and has yet again sent a message that power is in the hands of the electors not the elected.
The one thing I hope for from the annual budget is a government that says it will do less, not more. I’ve been hoping for that from every budget for the last 40 or so years, and each has been a disappointment.
There is also now clearly emerging inter-generational conflict within Māori between more moderate iwi elders intent on working within the system and a younger generation of activists intent on destroying the system. The real question is whether any politicians are brave enough to confront these issues.
Three Waters is an appalling work of political manipulation and misinformation. It exemplifies what’s so bad about the 2020 Labour government. It also explains why there is such derision and hostility towards Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta in particular.
In simple language, the terms of reference require the panel to reform local government in a way that is consistent with the wishes of central government. Reforming local government in the way recommended in the Future for Local Government report would be a giant leap forward for the government in achieving its He Puapua strategy.
Nanaia Mahuta has achieved exactly what she set out to achieve, and that is a much stronger presence of Maori around the local council decision making table. It’s a giant leap forward towards co-governance at a local level.
The most likely long-term outcome of the 3Waters reform is that the assumed cost and capital efficiencies will not materialise, due to a cumbersome governance structure subservient to cultural interests. The water reform is a high-risk proposition, with much higher risks that that faced by the 67 local authorities individually.
What we have seen is false advertising and orchestrated ‘news’ items on mainstream media to promote a perception that there is a need for reform. We have been given false assurances that the councils will retain ‘ownership’ of their water assets despite councils having no benefits of ownership and a report prepared by the Internal Affairs Department for Standard & Poors admitting water entities will have “limited Local Authority oversight”.
My first reaction to the "compelling" financial benefits claimed by Minister Mahuta was scepticism, for two reasons. First, the figures seem too good to be true. And second, as someone familiar with discounted cash flow analysis, I'm aware that minor "adjustment" to an underlying assumption can result in a significantly different result - the difference between a favourable or unfavourable recommendation.